LOVE PEACE UNITY EQUALITY HOPE
Martin Luther King Jr’s message throughout his life included the themes of Love, Peace, Unity, Hope, and Equality. That’s why we think that the work of graffiti writer, illustrator, and calligraphist Andres Medina on a wall in Brooklyn perfectly illustrates what we commemorate today.
Mr. King’s vision for a better world and specifically for the lives of the millions of African-Americans who were denied their basic human rights is as important today as it was when he was still alive; preaching, marching, shouting, counseling, and keeping tabs on the rulers.
We will continue to keep Dr. King’s messages clear and relevant to the new generations. We believe that it’s equally important to emphasize a singular theme that might have more relevance in today’s political atmosphere.
For us, the alarming erosion of voting rights, particularly in the “red” southern states is an issue of severe importance. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with Martin Luther King Jr. by his side. This law allowed African-Americans to overcome the legal barriers that state and local governments had implemented preventing African-Americans from exercising their right to vote as given to them in the 15th Amendment of the United States Constitution ratified in 1870.
But in 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court chipped away the Voting Rights Act by ruling that the law imposed constraints on states and that the federal voting procedures were outdated. This ruling allowed certain states to enact laws imposing restrictions and limiting the access to vote by demanding ID requirements, closing voting polling stations, eliminating early voting, and voting by mail. After Trump’s election, his defeat, and his denial of the legitimacy of President Biden’s win, Republican leaders at both the federal, state, and local levels have been furiously working on the further erosion of the Voting Rights Act to the point that the razor edge Democratic majority in Congress has been unable to pass voting legislation that would, among other things, ensure that African-Americans and other minorities retain and preserve their right to vote without interference from local legislatures and politics.
Each of us has a responsibility to make certain that voting rights for all citizens remain an inalienable right, one that can not be taken away by capricious, partisan autocrats nostalgic for the old days of white supremacy.
Because it is not just one day, it is 365 days. We celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. today for his leadership and his bravery, tenacity, vision, and ability to convey and light the way. The values that he and the Civil Rights movement championed are what we still have to pursue and fight for every day in large ways and small because those who are arrayed against equality never seem to stop.
Today we feature a mural that speaks to some of the greater themes, the connected values that Americans know are the right ones and which we’ll keep talking about and retaining at the ‘top of mind’. LOVE. PEACE. UNITY. EQUALITY. HOPE. While MLK Jr. could be poetic and soaring in his speeches and his rhetoric, these simple words speak directly to our greater goals for the greater good.
Admittedly today in 2022, the insidious deceptive movements against equality are disheartening, but MLK Jr. told us not to give in to the hot sting of hatred. “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great of a burden to bear,” he said.